Early Education

Cause For Celebration! Reading Academy Yields Results for South Oak Cliff Teachers and Students


25 June 2015

For 24 Kindergarten – 3rd grade teachers in Dallas ISD’s South Oak Cliff (SOC) feeder pattern, the school year ended with many causes for celebration, including successfully completing the 2014-15 SOC Reading Academy and helping nearly 200 Kindergarten-3rd grade students end the year reading on grade level.

Seeing that only 1 in 4 Kindergarten – 3rd graders were reading on grade level in 2013-14, Dallas ISD and the Commit! Partnership launched the SOC Reading Academy. The purpose: to support early grades teachers with data and professional development so they could help more students grow in their reading proficiency. Dr. Clarissa Plair, who has over 30 years of reading and leadership experience, facilitated the Reading Academy.

Throughout the 2014-15 school year, 24 teachers voluntarily attended sessions covering best practices in reading and writing instruction. Through the Reading Academy, participating teachers collectively received 500 hours of professional development with 100% of them indicating this opportunity helped them improve their classroom instruction for years to come.

Using the lessons from the Reading Academy to differentiate instruction is where teachers saw the magic happen: “My favorite moment of the year was when I was working with a small group on guided reading using principles that I had learned in the Reading Academy. One of my first graders said, ‘I’m learning!’ It was the most fulfilling moment of my day and year,” shared one first grade teacher.

With support from the Boone Family Foundation and individual community members, the SOC Reading Academy also provided teachers with the opportunity to request essential classroom literacy resources via the DonorsChoose.org website. Nearly $7,000 worth of classroom supplies were donated to participating teachers.

What about the impact on students? The majority of teachers had more students performing on grade level or growing in their reading proficiency compared to students from other classes in similar grades. Given the positive feedback from teachers and principals, the SOC Reading Academy will continue next school year with a more targeted focus on Kindergarten-2nd grade while serving as a learning laboratory for Dallas ISD.

To learn more about this work or to get involved, please contact Andy Canales, Director of Literacy Initiatives and Partnerships, at andy.canales@commit2dallas.org.